Four ways 9/11 changed America's attitude toward religion
Construction workers move steel beam pulled from ground zero rubble into its permanent home at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
September 3rd, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Four ways 9/11 changed America's attitude toward religion

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - David O'Brien couldn't help himself. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, he became obsessed.

O'Brien read the stories of 9/11 victims over and over, stunned by what he was discovering.

He read about the firefighters who marched up the smoke-choked stairwells of the World Trade Center, though many knew they could die; the beloved priest killed while giving last rites as the twin towers collapsed; the passengers on hijacked planes who called their families one last time to say, "I love you."

"I was obsessed with these stories," says O'Brien, a Catholic historian at the University of Dayton in Ohio. "There were so many stories of self-sacrifice, not just by the first responders, but by people fleeing the building. There was this revelation of goodness."

O'Brien saw an Easter message in 9/11 - good rising out of the ashes of evil. Yet there were other religious messages sent that day, and afterward, that are more troubling, religious leaders and scholars say.

September 11 didn't just change America, they say. It changed the nation's attitude toward religion. Here are four ways:

1: A chosen nation becomes a humbled one.

One man died because he arrived early to work. A woman died because she decided to take a later flight. The arbitrary nature of some of the deaths on 9/11 still sticks with many Americans today.

Yet this is what life is like for billions of people on the planet today, some religious leaders say. A random event - a car bomb, a stray bullet - can end their lives at any minute.

Most Americans had not lived with this vulnerability until 9/11, says Mathew Schmalz, a religion professor at the College of the Holy Cross  in Massachusetts, who once lived in Karachi, Pakistan.

"We had this sense of specialness and invulnerability that 9/11 shattered," he says. "Given that a large section of the world's population deals with random violence every day, one of the outcomes of 9/11 should be a greater feeling of solidarity with people who live in cities like Karachi in which violence is a part of everyday life."

Recognizing that vulnerability, though, is difficult for some Americans because of how they see their country, Schmalz and others say.

They say Americans have long had a triumphalist view of their place in history. Certain beliefs have been engrained: Tomorrow will always be better; we're number one. The term "American" even reflects a certain arrogance. It casually discounts millions of people living in Central and Latin America.

The 9/11 attacks, though, forced many Americans to confront their limitations, says Rev. Thomas Long, a nationally known pastor who has been active in post 9/11 interfaith efforts.

"We're losing the power of the American empire and becoming more a nation among nations," says Long, a religion professor at Emory University in Atlanta. "The world is a much more dangerous and fragile place economically."

How Americans cope with their loss of power is ultimately a theological question, Long says. It's the same question the ancient Hebrews confronted in the Old and New Testaments when they faced national calamities.

The chosen people had to learn how to be humble people, Long says. Americans face the same test today.

"The challenge for every faith tradition is going to be helping people grieve the loss of an image of America that they once had," he says, "and acquire a modern understanding of ourselves on the world's stage."

2: The re-emergence of "Christo-Americanism."

Before 9/11, if you asked the average American about Ramadan or sharia law, they probably would have given you a blank look.

Not anymore. The 9/11 attacks prompted more Americans to learn about Islam. Books on the subject became best-sellers. Colleges started offering more courses on Islam. Every cable news show suddenly had their stable of "Muslim experts."

More Americans know about Islam than ever before, but that hasn't stopped the post-9/11 Muslim backlash. The outrage over plans to build an Islamic prayer and community center near ground zero; the pastor who threatened to burn the Quran; conservative Christian leaders who called Islam evil - all occurred as knowledge of Islam spread throughout America, scholars says.

"One of the sobering lessons of the decade since 9/11 is that religious prejudice is not always rooted in raw ignorance," says Thomas Kidd, author of "American Christians and Islam."

"Some of America's most vociferous anti-Muslim critics know quite a lot about Muslim beliefs, but they often use their knowledge to construe Islam in the worst possible light."

Many of these public attacks against Islam were encouraged by conservative Christian leaders such as Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, who called Islam "wicked," and Pat Robertson, the Christian broadcaster who declared that "Islam is not a religion," says Charles Kammer, a religion professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio.

Kammer says Graham and Robertson helped fuel the rise of "Christo-Americanism," a distorted form of Christianity that blends nationalism, conservative paranoia and Christian rhetoric.

"A segment of the religious community in the United States has been at the forefront of an anti-Islamic crusade that has helped to generate a climate of hatred and distrust toward all Muslims," says Kammer.

Other strains of Christo-Americanism have swept through America before.

After 9/11, some political leaders said terrorists hated the U.S. because of "our freedoms." But America's record on granting those freedoms to its citizens is mixed, says Lynn Neal, co-editor of the book, "Religious Intolerance in America."

In the 19th century, the U.S government passed numerous laws preventing Native American tribes from practicing their religion. Mormons were persecuted. Roman Catholics were once described as disloyal, sexual deviants, Neal says.

"Religious intolerance is not a new feature of the American landscape. Despite being the most religiously diverse nation on earth, despite having a first amendment that protects religious rights...we as a nation and as citizens have often failed to live up to those ideas."

3: Interfaith becomes cool.

Interfaith dialogue - it's not the type of term that makes the heart beat faster.

Before 9/11, interfaith efforts were dismissed as feel-good affairs that rarely got media coverage. The 9/11 attacks changed that.

Interfaith events spread across the country. Mosques and temples held joint worship services. Every college campus seemed to have an interfaith dialogue. The Obama White House launched a college interfaith program.

Becoming an interfaith leader is now hip, some say.

"A generation of students is saying that they want to be interfaith leaders, just like previous generations said they wanted to be human rights activists or environmentalists," says Eboo Patel, who founded the Interfaith Youth Core in 2002.

Patel says at least 250 colleges have signed up for the White House interfaith program, which he helped design. The program encourages students of different faiths to work together on service projects.

"These young leaders will make interfaith cooperation a social norm in America, similar to multiculturalism and volunteerism," Patel says.

These new leaders include people like Sarrah Shahawy, a Muslim-American medical student at Harvard University and the daughter of Egyptian immigrants.

After 9/11, Shahawy says she felt the responsibility to educate people about Islam. She became an interfaith leader at the University of Southern California,  where she noticed a steady increase in student participation in the years after the attacks.

Shahawy says her generation is drawn to interfaith efforts because 9/11 showed the destructive potential of any exclusive claims to religious truth. The 9/11 hijackers carried out their attacks in the name of Islam, but Muslim religious leaders and scholars said that the terrorists' actions did not reflect Islamic teachings.

"For one religious group to claim a monopoly on truth should be obsolete," she says. The interfaith movement doesn't teach people that all religions are the same, she says.

Shahawy calls herself a proud Muslim. "But for me, there's beauty and truth to be found in many different religions."

4: Atheists come out of the closet.

There's one group, however, that sees little beauty in any religion.

Before 9/11, many atheists kept a low profile. Something changed, though, after 9/11. They got loud.

Atheist leaders such as Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," and Sam Harris, author of "The End of Faith," wrote best-selling books. Atheist groups launched national media campaigns with bold billboard messages such as "Christmas is a myth."

The pugnacious journalist Christopher Hitchens became the public face of a more combative form of atheism as he went on talk shows and lectures to defend not believing in God.

Criticism of all religion, not just fanatical cults, was no longer taboo after 9/11, says Daniel Dennett, a philosophy professor with Tufts University in Massachusetts.

"Atheist-bashing is now, like gay-bashing, no longer an activity that can be indulged in with impunity by politicians or commentators," Dennett says.

Atheists were driven to become more vocal because of the 9/11 attacks and America's reaction, says David Silverman, president of American Atheists. He says many atheists were disgusted when President George W. Bush and leaders in the religious right reacted to the attack by invoking "God is on our side" rhetoric while launching a "war on terror."

They adopted one form of religious extremism while condemning another, he says.

"It really showed atheists why religion should not be in power. Religion is dangerous, even our own religion," Silverman says.

Atheists are still the most disparaged group in America, but there's less stigma attached to being one, he says.

"The more noise that we make, the easier it us to accept us," Silverman says. "Most people know atheists now. They knew them before, but didn't know they were atheists."

Many Americans knew the people who perished on 9/11 as well, but they didn't know they were heroes until later, says David O'Brien, the Catholic historian who compulsively read the 9/11 obituaries.

O'Brien was so moved by the stories he read that he decided to write an essay for America magazine, a national Catholic weekly, entitled, "9/11 Then and Now."

He wrote: On 9/11, "Our people, my people, were tested and, for a shining moment ... they were found worthy."

He said many 9/11 victims didn't panic as their end drew near. They "thought not of themselves, but others ... when the chips were down." They saw themselves not as individuals, but as members of a "single human family."

So should we, he says, as we face new challenges 10 years later. The 9/11 victims aren't just heroes; they're our guides for the future, he says.

"The story is not over, not by a long shot," O'Brien wrote. "Look at all the love that day. Love can still write another chapter and keep hope alive for a better future. The meaning of 9/11 lies ahead, and it's in our hands, and maybe in our hearts.'

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 9/11 • Atheism • Christianity • Faith • Interfaith issues

soundoff (2,180 Responses)
  1. Lee

    The best thing that can happen is all the religious people butcher one another as is their ultimate fantasy. Then the "meek" really will inherit the earth. In the mean time we should push them towards this goal of theirs however we can.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  2. John Richardson

    President of what? Dawkins is British.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • John Richardson

      This was supposed to be a reply to J.W.'s comment below.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  3. Roger

    If anything, you have to appreciate the hidden viewpoint that was woven into this article. It's a viewpoint that plays beautifully into the popular stereotype which follows atheists wherever they go.

    To the author, 9/11 was a time of tragedy and sadness. And because of his religious leanings, he was compelled to a "higher" calling of investigating each and every human interest backstory that could be derived from the events of that terrible day.

    Meanwhile, what do atheists "believe" in? Apparently, to your average atheist, 9/11 was an opportunity to further a long-suppressed agenda. It was their "Reichstag fire" so to speak. Athiests...hummph. They don't care about their fellow Americans. Only those who believe in something "greater" are capable of that.

    As an atheist, you'd think I would've developed a sense of thick skin over viewpoints such as these. But, instead it only serves to reaffirm the notion that the way we as a society define morality still has a long, long way to go.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Have to wonder where you're pulling that from. Aside from somewhere below your waist.

      Also, you have to notice that the increased vocals from atheists came in response to Bush's comments about waging holy war, NOT as a reaction to the attacks. But, in true fundamentalist idiot style, you're doing an excellent job of demonizing a whole group of people for no reason.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • New Order of the Ages

      @ Roger

      Don't worry, the Freemasons already have a form of human "morality" already in preperation and, boy, is it brilliant! It's nothing new though, as they candidly admit. They just need to let it develope more, as it had in the past, before they can take advantage of it. Tricky, tricky, I say.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Roger


      Sometimes you have to take a step back and see the larger picture. Clearly, 9/11 was used by all sides of the political spectrum to play the sympathy card. If you read this article thoroughly, you'll see that the religious are conveniently painted as those who are compassionate about the hardships endured by those directly affected by 9/11.

      Do you see it anywhere within that article that the compassion and sympathy of atheists is mentioned? Do you honestly beileve that is a coincidence?

      And if you think that the vocalism of atheists can be tied to a single catalyst such as the loose comment of a invalid president, then I would say you most likely have a misguided understanding of that particular subject.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  4. Aditya

    I'm no apologist for terrorism, but I would like Americans in the media to get some sense of perspective here. 9/11 was no doubt a horrific event - one where thousands of people died. We should pray for the families of the deceased and make sure that their sacrifices were not in vein. We hear about 9/11 all the time on the news - understandably. However, the media stopped covering the bloodshed in Iraq very quickly, which was worse in many ways because it was a constant, recurring cycle of violence resulting in the death of thousands of people. There was a point where ordinary Americans had no idea about the number of people getting killed every day in Iraq. Violence and death are part of a daily reality for many countries in the Middle East, and some of the groups killing people are those who America supports. The twin towers fell, but there were entire cities in Afghanistan razed to the ground and innocent civilians who had nothing to do with 9/11 killed. How do you think they feel about us?

    September 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Fred1

      The last time America lost so many people in a surprise attach we dropped 2 atomic bombs on the perpetrator countries and your complaining about our insensitivity?

      September 5, 2011 at 12:35 am |
  5. DragonPat1

    It’s always fun to see true believers spout off about religion, which is something they know nothing about. They probably think the “eye of the needle” Jesus talked about was a sewing needle LOL. Parrots are always fun but I’ve always found them excessively noisy and incredibly boring.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Dennis

      My African Grey thinks I'm God. And he isn't boring.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  6. Yaright

    ? 1. If your pro life, what right do you have to tell a woman or child that became pregnant, that they must keep the child. Are you god?
    2. if your catholic, why do you revere the pope so much? is it because you believe he is a Stuart of god and god has blessed him? If that is the case, then why does he drive around in a bullet proof car? Does he believe that his sacrifice would not be held in the same regard as Jesus?
    3. If you do not believe in birth control, why do i have to take care of your children? I understand that i cannot afford more then two children of my own without resorting to welfare. Why if you cannot take care of a certain amount of children do i have to help you out instead of your church?

    September 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Yaright

      cnn wouldnt allow me to post "Ra-ped_ so i had to put say bacame pregnant. stupid right

      September 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Lee

      We know Pope Pius XII was an avid supporter of the Third Reich. So if we assume that the popes are chosen by God, then we can assume God chose and supported the Holocaust. And I guess we can then assume that we defeated God in his racist plot to eradicate Jews. Good thing this God is weak!

      September 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Yaright

      Here is another question? How did the Episcopal religion come around? I sure most people know about Henry the eight....

      September 4, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • New Order of the Ages

      Religion is man-made. And someday, all this hipocrisy you rightly see, will be revealed to the world as the devil himself. Jesus Christ, alone, is the answer. Only He will bring an end to the great lie that is human potential.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Yaright

      new order of things what is he waiting for?

      September 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • New Order of the Ages

      "It is not to the Lord that anyone should perish."

      No doubt, His plan (His Word) must be fulfilled, so any attempt to curb it, is out of question. To put it bluntly, He's waiting for YOU to surrender to His Love, and not that of the false world.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  7. Timerbeltkiller

    9/11 like any other piece of negative news media are full of every day proves the "gods" are either:
    – evil and influential sadists
    – good at heart but without influence

    or more likely: non-existing.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Yaright

      right, what is she/he waiting for? How many times have people preached about the end of the world? you would of thought Hitler would of been enough. Considering that he like to wipe out all Jews

      September 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  8. Steve

    Read all of the congruencies of the hearts of religious thieves in John 10: 1-18 vs. the perpatrators of 9/11. Stealing, killing and destroying to get to heaven and the concequences of the dogs of war comming after the flock. Pretty cool!

    September 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  9. DrMabuse

    9/11 was the day I gave up all religious belief and became an atheist. All religious belief is irrational, and in this case, the irrationality was deadly.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Yaright

      ow can a so called religious person impose their views on another person. What right do you have to tell a child or woman that was assaulted and became pregnant, that they must keep the child. Are you god?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  10. Timerbeltkiller

    Believers and atheists agree 99,99%:

    – Believers think all past, present and future religions are all fiction and no facts – with one exception: The one religion they themselves believe in.
    – Atheists think all past, present and future religions are all fiction and no facts – full stop.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Yaright

      closed mindedness

      September 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  11. Matt

    "Atheists are still the most disparaged group in America" Seriously? This quote pretty much discredits any findings in this article. Muslims are still largely disparaged. Gays also. Blacks are still often prejudiced against. Heck, I have seen Christians in a single positive news story in years (apparently their failures/scandals are only newsworthy). There's four more disparaged groups off the top of any UNBIASED person's brain.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • sue

      Religion was created to control the masses. You can have morale values without belonging to a religion or cult as I call it. Religious people weather Christian or Moslem seem to think they are special. You are no different than the person who choses to not believe in"god" . Far too many people have died , been abused, robbed in the name of religion. Far too many people act like sheep. Develp some critical thinking, be good to each other and stop using religion to manipulate and control. Government should be separate from religion.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Matt

      People are quick to point to murders done by people claiming to be Christians or Muslims, but they have a memory lapse with atrocities done by atheists like Stalin and Hitler. Hitler who was so infatuated with Nietzsche and the proposal of no God that he personally gave copies of Nietzsche's work to Stalin and Mussolini. Hitler believed that people have no value, only the strong should survive, and justified it by preaching that people are flesh and bone and have no intrinsic value from a Creator. Ouch

      September 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      First of all, Matt, that quote you took had the words "he says" at the end of it. It was not the author stating some kind of fact.

      That said, studies have shown that people in the US are more uncomfortable with the idea of an atheist president than they would be with a gay president or a woman.

      Also, please stop making up stories about Hitler et al. killing in the name of atheism. It hasn't happened. Ever. There have, however, been countless killings in the name of religion.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Matt

      I did not say "Hitler et al. killing in the name of atheism." I said he studied and was influenced by Nietzche. TRUTH: look it up. You probably don't believe anything I'll say, so let's here it from Viktor Frankl, someone who was there: "The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment–or, as the Nazi liked to say, of 'Blood and Soil.' I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers."

      September 4, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Fred1

      Atheist dictators – Marx, Lenin and Trotsky were Jews. Hitler, Mussolini and Franco were catholic. Stalin was eastern orthodox christian

      September 5, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  12. JosteinGaarder

    Tarfeanor, I want to disagree with your statement. Yes, there were few prominent scientists and philosophers that were religious, but majority of eminent scientists and philosophers were either atheists or agnostics. Because they were atheists and agnostics, they were scientists and philosophers in the first place. They were skeptical about general unsubstantiated beliefs, so they went to great lengths to examine the world in which we live in.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • likewhoa

      Most intellectuals were and are atheists but due to the time they lived in had to acknowledge that they would be laughed out of prominence if they didn't.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Scott

      Thinking outside-of-the-box does not require agnosticism or atheism as a prerequisite. Most religion followers fall under a category of "would like to believe" instead of "know for fact". There are many, including myself, that would like to believe that the government isn't ruled by corporations and money-making political careerists – but realism says otherwise.

      Realism, optimism, and religion often go hand in hand – a wishful thinking to improve one's own world. If America has stood for over two hundred years, one would ask why the vast majority of Americans still hold religious-based weddings, ceremonies and funerals.

      Why? Optimism and covering your ***. Because every scientist will tell you that if you can't prove something nonexistent, you don't know it doesn't exist.

      I am a religious person – but I am the first to tell you about cosmic anomalies like pulsars that could rip this planet up before anyone could notice. It's my choice, at that point, wanting to believe our existence won't simply be whiped out in a millisecond.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Actually Scott, any scientist will tell you that if absolutely no positive evidence is offered for something, then you assume it doesn't exist. Kind of like Bigfoot. Or the Loch Ness monster. Or gods.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  13. likewhoa

    I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask for some help?

    September 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Matt

      You forgot to read Exodus 35:1, "Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said..." This was a rule and consequence given to a people (it's not for your neighbor to live by) who had just left slavery in Egypt and were establishing their own country. John Smith had similar rules when establishing the colonies that led to our current country, "If you don't work, you don't eat." That doesn't apply to your neighbor today either.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Scott

      Ahh yes, literally. Just like the world was created in seven days.

      Do yourself a favor and become a lawyer. You'll realize even contracts are up for interpretation as well.

      You do know English isn't even a native language to religion?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Emil

      Hey, how do you know he's working? And can't you do it yourself?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Lee

      You don't have to do that brother. God commands that you might be able to drive an awl through his ear and make him your slave for life. See god doesn't command indiscriminate killing!

      September 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • likewhoa

      just a little humor people!

      September 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  14. Jesus is DEAD, ppl

    Jesus is a name in a book of lies. There is no such thing as sin, a god who gives a rat's ass about it, or anything derived from such nonsense. Logic and a seeking after truth destroys your fake god and his fake son who didn't really rise from the dead.
    Face it, he won't be "back" as there is no place where he went to. He is dead. Nothing is left of any dead person to bother the living, fortunately, otherwise we'd be inundated with ghosts or something silly like that. Ghosts do not exist. UFOs are not extraterrestrial spacecraft. Jesus probably didn't exist, but if he did, there is little to recommend him as all his mystical nonsense was born from his whacked-out Jewish beliefs which don't make any sense and appear to be nothing but BS in the first place.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Scott

      A human only knows that which he is taught. An African who lives in a desert all his life may see snow and think the world is ending. It is arrogant to not imagine that something incredible may actually exist – to toss out everything from time-travel, space-travel, dimensional realities, to religious spirits and gods, to the world being flat and your conscious living in a test-tube, simply means your mind has chosen to confine itself.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  15. Terry Moore

    Marx said it, Dawkins said it.. I am nobody compared with these 2. Religion is, at best, a placebo for the mind of people unable to face the mysteries of life and the universe and desiring explanations. Nothing wrong with that, if it works for them.
    But Faith has no right whatsoever to psh itslf onto others.. That is where most religions, most especially in North America and in Muslim countries, keep doing the wrong thing : Proselytism is NOT a perequisite for religion.
    And mixing religions and politics is the saddest thing that himan minds could conceive. Religion should remain private, and SILENT. That is, silent with regards to the affairs of the world.
    One does not need to be religious to have a sense of morals. Morality is what should drive our responses to all that faces us.
    But as Machiavelli showed a while back, morality has very little to do with the affairs of state.. Hence we are caught in this continuous tug of war between morality (religious based or not) and reality.. People : Reality eventually wins, and all the time.. Better to start becoming realists. And hope that our beliefs will mitigate our inability to fosetr morality onto the world at large.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • captain america

      How did that Marxist thing work out for the soviet union?Oh yeah, a Catholic Pope and an American"Christian" President brought down the whole mess.USSR 1917-1991 RIP.dawkins and marx????No God =No nation.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Arturo Torres

      hopefully it taught us how to recover in spirit healthy manner alla 12 steps

      September 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • J.W

      Dawkins is pretty popular. He should run for president.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Scott

      The reality is that people for ages have blamed religion for most things in general – good or bad.

      The conversation has to start becoming "person chose (topic A)" instead of "person is (religion A)". The moment you and others realize that most things in life do have choices, including religion, that is when everyone might realize that religion doesn't matter – it's the human that still makes the choice.

      Many atheist fanatics would like to believe that all religious followers are brain-washed and can't make decisions for themselves.

      The most intelligent man in the world will say not to rule anything out of this world. Just as the world was proven to be round, so may other out-of-this-world topics prove to be reality.

      For all we know the "flying spaghetti monster" was indeed a time machine or space craft of alien origin. Wouldn't it be funny if the religious were correct? And it just happened to be ancient prophets and gods were the harbingers of culture, human gene progression and technology, gifted down from the heavens? By our cosmic ancestors?

      Far fetched? Maybe. But not as far-fetched as their being gods in the world.

      There is a reason the phrase "He was a god in his time" comes to mind. It's a decision to be made – and it's not a forced decision to murder, steal, and infringe upon others.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  16. New Order of the Ages

    "From many, one."

    Truth is stranger than fiction. No conspiracy here, just open the eyes God gave you and SEE. Freemasons may not be the only one's behind this unification, centralization of world affairs, but regardless, anyone alive should be able to see what's going on. Really, it's the only thing that makes sense!

    But Christ makes Himself known to all men, so that they are without excuse in denying Him. Repent now, and be at true Peace with your fate.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • alan

      i dont know about all men knowing christ. you gotta think about that for just a minute. there's about 7 billion people in this planet and they can't all know the guy.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • cachuw

      Hey NOOTA, can you not converse like you were 2000 years old?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • alan

      thinketh before opening thy mouth. haha

      September 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • captain america

      truth justice and the american way stand with new order!

      September 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • New Order of the Ages

      @Captain America

      Yes, unfortunately it is, but Christ will make all things, good and bad, work for the better of His believers. This NWO is nothing new, really. Merely the Final Solution to the Christian "problem." Satan has been waiting for this moment since man was created, but we will have no fear, Christ is near!

      "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God, the things which are God's."

      September 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Fred1

      @New Order of the Ages: He’s already 2000 years late. Why do you think now is any different
      So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matt. 24:33–34).

      September 5, 2011 at 12:49 am |
  17. Steve

    A prosperous future is dependent on the continuation of number 4.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  18. Lee

    We atheists have become more anti-theists and atheist. It may take a century or two but eventually we are what everyone else will be.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • LuisWu

      I'm an agnostic, I think it's just as ludicrous to say you know for sure that their isn't a god as it is to say you know for certain there is. Scientists say that given an infinite amount of time, anything and everything can and will happen. So who knows?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • pt6071

      @LuisWu The levels of ridiculousness are NOT equal. You might as well say it's a 50-50 shot that there are fairies at the bottom of the well, despite however much someone can stare down there and not see anything.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • thinker

      If you are agnostic, then by definition it means you believe that the existence or non-existence of god cannot be known. Therefore, you do not believe in god. The question of "Do you believe in god" isn't a question about the existence of god, it's a question about you and what you believe. It's a yes/no question. Either you believe, or you don't. If you believe in god, then you are saying he exists, and therefore you believe his existence can be known because you know it. Since this does not describe you, you are an atheist. Agnosticism is just a way of refusing to answer the question "do you believe in god?".
      When I say I am an atheist, I am saying that I have no proof of the existence of god and therefore do not believe in god, the same as i do not believe that right now a fire-breathing dragon is barbecuing T-bones in my back yard. Given proof, I would believe. I do, however, have abundant proof that many horrible things are done in the name of god by those who believe in god, so I think religion is destructive. This is why I rail against religion.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Jesus is DEAD, ppl

      LuisWu, a total and comprehensive lack of proof is a strong negative proof that makes it a virtual certainty that there is not only no god as described by any religion, but that no superbeing is likely to exist anywhere in the multiverse.
      That's how little proof you have that there "might" be a god somewhere. None. Not at any level of physics or cosmology.
      There are no patterns anywhere, not the slightest suggestion that there might be a god of any sort unless it's the god of staying the hell away from this continuum. That one might exist. But that's about it.
      Just think of it: a TOTAL lack of any proof whatsoever. ANY proof! Anywhere!
      Yet these fraudulent religions and their books of lies can definitely be refuted each and every time. So as far as these religions go, including Spinoza's "breathing universal amoeba" as some characterize it, they can all be smashed to smithereens very easily indeed using the total lack of any supporting proof whatsoever.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • DarkAxel

      thinker, your logic is flawed. Atheists clearly state that they believe there is no god because there is no scientific proof. Christians clearly state that God exists because of the proof of their faith. Agnostics are willing to admit that they simply do not know if there is a god.

      In shot, the difference between an atheist and an agnostic is that the Atheist has already found his answer (There is no god), while the Agnostic believes that the question of God's existence hasn't been answered yet.

      Atheists actually have more in common with theists in that both groups fail to exercise intellectual honesty when it comes to the scientific existence of a higher power. Agnostics do.

      For the record, I'm a Christian ;).

      September 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  19. tarfeanor

    mankinds greatest scientists and philosphers were all deeply religious

    September 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • LuisWu

      Not so. Einstein and a lot of his contemporaries believed in something like "Spinoza's God", not a "personal" god but something like a "life energy" that pervades the Universe. Sometimes called pantheism. Bottom line, they didn't believe in a personal, separate god. For them, the Univers IS a living thing, but not necessarily intelligent or even self aware. Carl Sagan, the famous astronomer once said, "Perhaps the Universe evolved intelligent life in order to observe itself."

      September 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Steve

      When you over think everything you trend to buy irrational ideas from time to time.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Daniel

      Thomas Jefferson (as well as other founding fathers): Agnostic (Some sources say Deist, others say atheist)
      Thomas Edison (Inventor of over 1,000 inventions—including the lightbulb): Atheist
      Steven Hawking (A physicist): Atheist
      Epicurus (A very influential Greek Philosopher): Atheist
      Albert Einstein (A man with some of the deepest understanding of the Universe for his time): Agnostic.

      Therefore, your statement is completely incorrect.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • alan

      think before you speak please.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • cachuw

      Tarfeanor I've got your deeplyyyyyyyyy rediculous right here!

      September 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Lee

      Nothing could be further from the truth and even if it was it does not act as proof that religion is based on any truth.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • vintage274

      The Founding Fathers of this country were preponents of the Enlightenment, a philosophy in which Humanism overrode belief in any god. Though many did believe in a god of sorts, it was NOT the God worshipped in Christian churches today. It was a Deist God who they believed created the world and then absconded to allow humans to use their free will to make reasoned choices. There is very little reference to Jesus in the writings of our fore fathers. God is referred to in the generic, not in the particular. These intelligent political philosophers set the tone for what they believed American should be. I think they would be shocked at what the author of this piece refers to as "Christo-America," a political/religious philosophy that embraces nationalism. Nationalism at its extreme is Fascism in full bloom.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Julia

      "Belief" and "disbelief" are silly terms. The question to be asked is "what is the evidence?". Some things have overwhelming evidence such as the Earth goes around the Sun. Some "beliefs" have no evidence at all including all religions. Things which have lots of evidence can still be untrue. Later evidence may show. Evidence has to re-evaluated periodically to see if it is still convincing. So, saying you believe or disbelieve in something is idiotic. The only thing that you can truly say is that the evidence for it is good or not. I find no evidence for religion. Making "belief" a positive step is just stupid religious crap to lull idiots into believing impossible things are possible.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  20. LuisWu

    All religions are nothing more than ancient mythology written thousands of years ago by primitive societies. The sooner people wake up and realize that science, logic and reason are much better guides to reality than ancient mythology, the better.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • John10:10

      You're wrong. Jesus Christ was an historical figure who rose from the dead. Mythological figures are imaginary.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Steve

      very true

      September 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • alan

      laughable. i dont understand how anyone could believe that a human actually came back to life after three days. imagine the smell. unless you count zombies!

      September 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • cachuw

      More and more aware folks are living in the present, not the past.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • cachuw

      Sounds kinda impossible John to rise from the dead several days after you die. what about real time my man!

      September 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • pt6071

      Oh but @John10:10, Allah is the only one true God and Mohammed is his prophet. He's a historical figure; guess you need to go convert now...

      September 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • likewhoa

      dont forget about buddha!

      September 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Really?

      John 10:10 the only thng that could possibly be proven is that there may have been a jesus. Outside of that you base your life around a book of fables. I won't tell you that you are wrong (as it would be a futile effort anyway) but stop putting misinformation out there. There is not one single shredded of proof of anyone ever rising from the dead.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • J.W

      Blah Blah blah I think I may have heard this argument before.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Lee

      If Jesus Christ was a historical figure why did none of the historians of the day record his existence. By myth, he was a man "known throughout the land", he could not go to a town without every one there coming out to see him. Kind of odd then that the only descriptions of his life lay in written works decades and centuries after his supposed death.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • vintage274

      LOVE the response that Jesus was a historical figure who rose from the dead. "Historical" implies proven through recorded FACT. Yes, we know a man named Jesus existed. FACT. That he rose from the dead was not witnessed nor was it factually determined. It is no more FACT than the story about George Washington and the cherry tree. A myth is not a falsehood; it is metaphorical story meant to underline the most cherished ideals of a culture. While the existence of Jesus is a historical FACT, not a myth, his supposed resurrection is a myth that demonstrates for Christian believers the supernatural and otherwordly aspects of a beloved leader.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.